Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #64: Countryside and/or Small Towns

The nice thing about living in a small town is that when you don’t know what you’re doing, someone else does.~Immanuel Kant

Over the years, we’ve lived in cities like New York City and Boston with millions of people.  We’ve moved to small towns with one post office.  And we’ve lived in suburban areas with two high schools, and 8 elementary schools.

But this week, I’m focusing my sights on small towns, Amy’s theme this week for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #64.

Here are a few thoughts and images of small towns.  The first characteristic that comes to mind is that their landscape changes slowly.  Buildings cluster around a central area, but nature still predominates. From our apartment in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we could gaze at this vista that stretched for miles.  This view greeted us every morning and changed very little in the eight years we lived there.

Last Morning in GR.

El mundo es un pañuelo~ Spanish proverb  The world is a handkerchief.  (It’s a small world.)

In small towns, houses reveal the personalities of their owners.  Here, in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, these owners have lovingly maintained a vintage cerulian front door, which reveals the age and history of this building in layers of paint and antique hardware.  If you look closely at the sign next to the door, you’ll see this doorway leads to the “Centro Historico” of the town.  Is that any surprise?

Cerulian Door, San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico

In a small town where everyone knows everyone it is almost impossible to believe that one of your acquaintance could murder anyone. For that reason, if the signs are not pretty strong in a particular direction, it must be some dark stranger, some wanderer from the outside world where such things happen.― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

In small towns like this one outside Boston, people have a “long” sense of history.  They may know many families for generations and may find reassurance in this longevity and their shared history.   The traditional architecture of their churches, schools and the village green also reflect this respect for history and love of community.

Conversely, people in small towns can be wary of outsiders–even those who live in the same town for decades.  That’s why our local newspaper in New Hampshire printed obituaries with the headline:   “Massachusetts Man Dies at Age 95.”   Deep in the announcement we’d find out that the deceased moved to town when he (or she) was very young.  No matter.  If they weren’t born in this town, the locals considered them as outsiders.

Small Town, Lincoln, Massachusetts

In small towns people scent the wind with noses of uncommon keenness. ~Stephen King

I love driving through small towns in rural America and finding places where the locals eat–like Jerry’s–a great spot for Mexican food in a remote part of Arizona.   We could smell the delicious food even as we parked the car and walked towards the restaurant.  In small towns and large ones, people create communities around food and celebrate their local chefs.

Jerry’s Cafe, On the Road to Arizona

Earth is a small town with many neighborhoods in a very big universe.~Ronald J. Garan, Jr.

My last image is from Osoyoos, a small town in rural Canada.  Its desert climate and typography were surprising and a bit disorienting because they reminded me so much of Arizona and New Mexico. The town even had adobe houses.  But there were uniquely Canadian features too–like beautiful vineyards and orchards and a lake.  I suppose that’s true of small towns in general–that no two are alike.  They have unique personalities and characteristics.

Small Town Osoyoos at Twilight

So, what conclusions can I draw about small towns?  They can surprise us with their natural beauty and uniqueness.  They can provide a richness of experience and a sense of community.  They can also be a refuge from the unpredictability and drama of city life.

Please stop by and view Amy’s inspiring post this week.  If you join us, be sure to link your post to hers. (Links posted within the Reader are not working correctly.)  Use the Lens-Artists tag to help us find you. For instructions on how to join us, click here.

On September 28th, it’s Tina’s turn to host challenge #65, so be sure to visit her site.

As always, Amy, Tina, Ann-Christine, and I hope you will join us!

60 replies »

  1. Beautiful photos and stories of small towns, Patti. I breathtaking view in Grand Rapids. Love how you describe the uniqueness and natural beauty of small towns. Great photos and quotes! Thank you!


  2. I love the obituary story. Small towns are lovely and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head re: their wariness of outsiders. After moving to a small town, I learned very quickly that there’s a big difference between being a local and being a resident … like two generations 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, IJ. Thank you! The building we lived in was 31 stories high and we lived on the 27th floor. So, it did cast a long shadow. Glad you liked Jerry’s sign, too. I looked up and saw it when we were leaving the restaurant. It was a great piece of Americana.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed your countryside, small town tour. Your narrative is spot on. I live in a small town in New England and if you aren’t born here, you are an outsider (always). But it’s not a big deal as many are from somewhere else! And the small restaurant with the name everyone knows – perfect example. There is a real sense of belonging to a small town community – especially if you’re a “native.” Your photos are lovely 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, Patti, I’ve always been a inner-city urban lad, but there’s no mistaking the romance (and conservatism) found in small towns that’s present (and ironically) universal in every small town around the world. I love that “Jerry’s Cafe” sign! Do you happen to remember the Arizona town where you saw the sign? How was the food at Jerry’s?


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